Echoes of Dark Reflections
Part Two – The Unnatural Tower
The tower was all wrong. It had been constructed of the same dark crystalline substance that had burnt Lakach’s hands, and shaped all as facets and sharp edges, the surfaces glistening like they had been polished, yet it appeared to be a single, solitary piece of crystal, with no construction to be seen. To Nhaqosa’s trained eye, it appeared unnatural.
It had burst its way up out of the dry earth, leaving the ground around it ruptured and shattered, with great cracks radiating out from it like a spiders web, some large enough to fit a grown man in. Boulders had ruptured, the shards of their remnants scattered around the tower, and among them were broken fragments of crystal that had fallen from the tower itself, much like the one Lakach had found.
When it had emerged, it had been at an angle, tilted off to one side, though not enough so that threatened to send it toppling over. At the base they could see a hollow that led inwards, some form of passageway without doors or bars.
Nhaqosa looked around at the band of escaped gladiators who accompanied him, following him ever since the day of their bloody revolt that had brought them their freedom. Most appeared tense, their weapons drawn and at hand, ready for action or the first sign of danger, but they were expectant as well, eager to go on now, their initial fears and concerns forgotten.
“What do you think, Abasan?” Nhaqosa asked quietly. The wiry, narrow faced man had in most regards become his lieutenant in the band, and, despite his at times near slavish deference towards Nhaqosa, the minotaur valued the man’s opinions and advise.
“I get a bad feeling about this place, Kwaza,” Abasan replied tersely. “This doesn’t belong here. Unnatural, like Lak said. It sets my teeth on edge.”
Nhaqosa nodded in agreement, touching at the wolf’s head pendant that hung about his neck, a simple carving of red wood. It seemed to throb beneath his fingers, reacting to the presence of the dark crystal tower, a bad sign to be sure. He tried to recall what it was that the man who had given it to him had said, though the memories of that day were hard to recall. It reacts to the traces that seep between the worlds. For the pendant to react to the tower could mean only one thing, that it, like himself, was not native to that world. There were many worlds out there though, and which one that the tower came from remained unknown, a state of affairs that was unlikely to change.
“Best check it out,” Nhaqosa rumbled. “It could be the source of whatever has killed the lands hereabouts, and if that is so then we need to stop if before it continues to do so.”
“As long as it doesn’t to it to us,” Abasan replied.
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